by Brandon Mayer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
On April 16, the Habitat for Humanity’s Kemptville ReStore will be marking its 6th year in business, and will be celebrating the occasion with some special activities. One such activity will be run by Winchester artist Julie Bissell, who will be teaming up with the Kemptville ReStore to provide free art classes on that day, every half hour on the hour, from 9am until 5pm. Julie specializes in chalk painting, and through her business “Chalk it up to Julie,” she saves and restores old furniture by giving it a “country chic” look. Julie approached the Kemptville ReStore about the idea after realizing that her focus on saving and restoring furniture, rather than discarding it, ties in nicely with the work of the ReStore, which is a not-for-profit home renovation thrift store whose proceeds support Habitat for Humanity.
In preparing for the classes, Julie has familiarized herself with the donated furniture items which are for sale in the ReStore, and, as part of the classes, she will be teaching people to think outside the box by considering the many different uses for items which most people believe only have one purpose. “A kitchen cabinet door can be made into a million different things,” Julie said, as an example of the type of things she will be teaching.
While Julie will provide the knowledge for free, those who want to put the knowledge into practice will have the opportunity to purchase materials from the ReStore, as well as paint and other supplies from Julie, to get started. These materials will be provided at discounted prices, in celebration of the ReStore’s 6th anniversary.
This will be a trial run for the chalk painting classes, with future classes possible if the response is positive. A portion of proceeds from future classes would be donated directly to the ReStore.
Julie stressed that chalk painting is not just about the art or the cost savings – it is also great for mental health. One of Julie’s strengths is helping people to overcome their anxieties and find their confidence in order to produce work they can be proud of. To help people see the potential of restoring furniture, rather than discarding it, Julie picked a dresser at the ReStore, which was in such bad condition that “probably 99% of people walk by it,” and she will be restoring it as a before-and-after example at the front of the store to show the potential of furniture restoration.
“Reuse, repurpose, recycle, rethink,” is Julie’s motto. As more information on the April 16 classes becomes available, it will be made available on Julie’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Chalkituptojulie, and the ReStore’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/restorekemptville73.